An excellent resume has the power to open doors.

However, very few resumes are written to a high standard. To be effective, a resume needs to align each of your career moves into a cohesive narrative, while using each of your career moves to their advantage in representing you.

It also needs to solidify your value by articulating your point of difference in the market in a commercially relevant way.

Easier said than done, right?

Thankfully, there’s help at hand.

If you don’t want to write your own resume, your two main options are:

  • use an automated online resume builder
  • hire a professional resume writer

Irene has covered the pros and cons of hiring professional resume writers in a previous post, so today I’ll focus on your other option – using an online resume builder to create a DIY resume.

The big question that I want to answer is – can an online resume builder help a typical jobseeker, who has minimal resume writing skills, craft a resume which gets noticed by recruiters?

 

USING AN ONLINE RESUME BUILDER.

Resume builders assist you by assembling your work history and experience into a neatly organised document.

Most of them are intuitive to use and offer clean, nice-looking resume templates. Some contenders worthy of mention are:

Most of them will allow you to create your resume before taking payment. This means you only pay when (or if) you’re happy with the result – and once you decide to export the resume, without watermarks, into a recruiter-friendly format.

I took one of the market leaders – Uptowork – for a test-drive to see how it could add value to my hypothetical job application.

At this point I must point out that, even though I work for Arielle Careers, I’m deeply involved on the marketing side of the business, so I’m not a resume writer by any stretch of the imagination.

Presented with the task of writing my own resume and a blank page, I get overwhelmed with thoughts like:

  • “What’s the most important thing to say here?”
  • “What should I leave out?”
  • “Am I boasting too much?”
  • “Am I underselling myself?”

In that sense, I’m a suitable guinea pig for an online resume builder test such as this one. The big question is – will it help me, a guy with a fairly complex and reasonably commendable career history, create a competitive resume?

Let’s find out.

Uptowork’s interface is easy enough to figure out and follow. In the first step I’m asked to fill out basic contact and career information. This process will be familiar to anyone who has filled out their own Facebook or LinkedIn profile:

In Step 2 I’m requested to provide a few sentences for the Summary section of my resume.

This is the point which most people dread – and why a lot of job seekers, after tinkering with an online resume builder, choose to outsource the task to a real, human resume writer:

Thankfully, Uptowork doesn’t leave me in a lurch and comes to my aid with a few helpful pointers:

Armed with my newfound knowledge, I begin to peck away at the keyboard, sticking closely to the guidelines and examples provided.

Professional title, check.

Achievements, check.

Tailor to the job, check.

The result seems reasonably OK, but if I’m entirely honest with myself I see that it’s the resume writing equivalent of a 2am kebab – reliable and practical, but not inspiring or memorable:

I am guided through a similar process in the “Experience” section. That is, I get confronted with an empty text box, am given some tips and use them to craft the following:

If I was intending to send this resume in for a real job application I’d certainly make an effort to improve on the above before doing so.

I’d find, read and implement guides on how to create excellent resume achievements, how to avoid common resume mistakes and how to ensure that my resume meets standards required by Australian employers.

However, my purpose here is to find out how an online resume builder can add value to someone who has received no training in resume writing whatsoever.

With that in mind, press on. I follow Uptowork’s final few instructions and provide details of my education and skills. Shortly after, I’m a proud owner of this document:

The final result has a reasonably clean and modern look. The spacing between sections needs to be increased, but that’s something that a person with a minimal eye for design can notice and implement.

The real question is – is this resume effective?

 

THE VERDICT.

My main takeaway from this experiment is that an online resume builder acts as a reasonably effective resume layout platform.

It assists greatly with design, bringing much-needed simplicity to the visual aspect of resume writing process. In that sense, it helps you avoid having a clunky, overloaded-with-text resume which looks like it’s stuck in the 1990’s:

Having said that, it’s important to note that visual presentation of a resume is a secondary factor. You will not get a job just because your resume looks nice.

Design is there to help recruiters and hiring managers ingest the written information about you, not to compensate for the lack of substance in that information.

Which is where the online resume builder begins to show cracks.

Like most software platforms, it is inextricably tied to, and limited by, the GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out) paradigm. That is, the quality of the resume builder’s output is determined by the quality of your input.

My less-than-amazing resume is a reminder that software simply processes what it is given.

In this sense I note – not without irony – that an online resume builder is of most value to someone with reasonably strong resume writing chops and weak design skills. That is, a typical professional resume writer.

For people like me, who possess very little resume writing skill, an automated resume builder is of little help.

 

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Nice-looking templates
  • Spell-check
  • Basic resume writing tips
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • Doesn’t really help write a resume
  • Makes you look like everyone else – at best

If you take your career seriously, I recommend that you consider investing time and money into having your resume written by a real, human resume writer.

For advice on how to choose one, check out Irene’s Ultimate Guide To Choosing The Best Resume Writer.

 

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